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Court Ruling Further Clarifies ADA Website Accessibility Obligations

Conn Maciel Carey LLP
USA February 21 2019

Over the past several years, we have written extensively about employers’ obligations to make their websites accessible for individuals with visual, hearing and physical impairments. In the past, we have counseled employers who are considered a “place of public accommodation” (such as a hotel, restaurant, place of recreation, doctor’s office, etc.) to at the very least do some due diligence to determine whether their websites are accessible for disabled users, so that those individuals can use and navigate those websites and/or purchase goods sold on

Phones Still Aren’t Quite Right for People With Disabilities

February 18th, 2019
Posted by John Toon-Georgia Tech

Mobile phones are increasingly more accessible for people with disabilities, but there are still some significant gaps in service, according to a new study.

Researchers compared 2017 model year phones capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alert notifications a category that includes most top-tier phones to 2015 versions and found improved accessibility across 10 of 13 features.

However, phones offered through the federally subsidized Lifeline program for low-income people fell short in nearly every category when compared to phones offered through traditional wireless plans.

Copy Machines Being Upgraded for Accessibility

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Feb. 15, 2019

Copy machines capable of producing documents accessible to those with low vision or other sight impairment will soon be in place at 11 locations across campus. It’s the start of a campaign to ensure these machines are readily available for the campus community.

When scanning a document, most copy machines produce a PDF image that’s undecipherable to screen-reading technologies. The new functionality allows copiers to scan a document to create a PDF file that can be read by these technologies using optical character recognition, or OCR.

Our Biased Web: Why Don’t We Care About Making The Web Accessible For All?

Kalev Leetaru
AI & Big Data I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

As society has increasingly awoken to the dangers of algorithmic bias in the machine learning and AI systems that underlie an ever-greater portion of our lives, it is notable that for all of the attention and funding being focused on AI bias, there has been in comparison a deafening silence on the topic of accessibility bias.

As the web rushes ever faster towards a multimedia-first existence, why is it that there is comparatively so little conversation about making this content accessible to those with differing physical abilities?

Siri on the ReSound Linx Quattro Smart Hearing Aid a First for AI voice Control

Next stop: integrating with Google Assistant.
Jessica Dolcourt
January 9, 2019

“Hey Siri, stream iTunes through my hearing aid.” That’s just one of many things you can do with the ReSound Linx Quattro, the first smart hearing aid to use AI to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant.

Smart hearing aids are part of a burgeoning field of gadgets set to transform the health care industry. For the Linx Quattro, that means drawing people with hearing impairment further into their digital world.

The Linx Quattro uses AI to learn your preferences and settings over time, and to proactively make adjustments to various sound profiles. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change profiles with voice commands (e.g. turn up the volume in my left ear).

Compass Slapped With Lawsuit Over Website Access for the Blind

Discrimination lawsuit highlights legal risk for brokerages that don’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act by Teke Wiggin Staff Writer
Dec 28

Compass is being sued for allegedly failing to make its website fully accessible to blind people, raising the specter that real estate brokerages remain exposed to a legal risk about which the National Association of Realtors had previously warned members.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed on Dec. 12 in a New York district court, accuses Compass of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for “its failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”

CRTC Mandates Standards for TTY, IP Relay Accessibility Messaging Services

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018

Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.

As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.

Instagram Improving Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments

New features include “alternative text” to provide descriptions for pics. by Gordon Gottsegen
November 28, 2018

On Wednesday, Instagram announced new features intended to provide a better experience for people with vision impairments.

Instagram is introducing automatic alternative text, which lets you hear descriptions of pictures when using Instagram with a screen reader. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition tech to generate a list of things that may appear in the photo, helping people know what they’re looking at.

Instagram also lets you create your own alternative text. When posting a photo, you’ll be able to go into the Advanced Settings and add your own alt text, which can be heard when using a screen reader.

The Internet Is An Unwelcoming Place to the Disabled

There’s already a blueprint for a more accessible internet. If only designers would learn it.
By Anne Quito•November 15, 2018

The internet can be a hostile space for 15% of the world’s population who experience some form of disability.

Try navigating a website as someone who is visually impaired: Turn on voice command on your computer (Command ? + F5 if you’re on a Mac, enable Navigator if you’re on a PC) and go to Amazon’s Kindle store. You’ll quickly find out that those who rely on voice commands can’t skip around and are doomed to listen to every notation about every page element before getting to the one piece of information they need.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Medi-Cal

Date Filed: 10/22/2018

On October 18, 2018, Disability Rights Advocates(DRA) and a coalition of blind advocates filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court against the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and its county agents for failing to provide Medi-Cal notices in accessible formats, such as Braille.

The plaintiffs are the California Council of the Blind and three individuals; co-counsel is the Disability Rights and Education Fund and Disability Rights California. Read the complaint at the link below.

Feds Prod Universities to Address Website Accessibility

Universities are under legal pressure to make their websites fully accessible to people with disabilities, but is “fully” even possible? By Lindsay McKenzie
November 6, 2018

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility.

WPCampus is Pursuing an Independent Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

Editors Note: As a member of the Accessibility Team that tested Gutenberg I can tell you at the time I tested it, it was garbage and totally inaccessible to me and my screen reader, if your company has any employees who use assistive devices, do not upgrade until they fix it .

?Sarah Gooding October 25, 2018

WPCampus is looking to hire a company to perform an accessibility audit of the Gutenberg editor. The organization is a community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. WPCampus director Rachel Cherry published a request for proposals detailing the organization’s specific concerns:

Surrey to Build World’s First Translation System for British Sign Language

Originally Published: 03 October 2018

The worlds first machine capable of turning British Sign Language (BSL) into written English is set to be built by the University of Surrey as part of a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

BSL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, and it is very different from English. BSL uses several parts of the body simultaneously to fully express a range phrases, ideas and emotions.

Deaf Canadians ‘At Risk’ in Times of National Emergency

Other countries have on-screen interpreters during news broadcasts Sherry Noik, CBC News, September 27, 2018.

When the next ice storm, wildfire or terror attack happens, Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing will be in greater peril than others because most public notification systems are not accessible to them, experts say.

The Canadian Hearing Society estimates there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing and 340,000 Canadians who are deaf, including an estimated 11,000 who are deaf-blind. In policy and in practice, Canada lags behind other countries in ensuring their safety in an emergency.

How Technology is Assisting Seniors to ‘Age in Place’

October 1 2018

The latest statistics show that people are living longer in virtually every country in the world, with the over 60 age group growing faster than any other cohort.

The aging global population is altering many aspects of society, none more so than housing. When quizzed about their preferred living arrangements, the overwhelming majority of over 60’s (up to 90%) stated that they’d prefer to stay in their own home as they grow older known as ‘Aging in Place’. Yet the challenges brought on by deterioration in mental and physical health as we age, often make this difficult.

Senators Urge DOJ to Weigh in On ADA Impact on Websites

BY BEN JACOBSON ben.jacobson@thmedia.com
September 16, 2018

A pair of U.S. senators from Iowa say it’s unclear whether the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act transcends the physical world into the cyber realm.

Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republicans, have asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explore whether the 1990 law applies to website accessibility as well.

“For nearly 30 years, the ADA has protected countless individuals with disabilities, ensuring physical access to ‘any place of public accommodation,'” the senators wrote in a letter, co-authored by lawmakers from North Carolina, South Dakota, Idaho and Texas. “We support the ADA and all that it stands for.

Talking Gloves, Tactile Windows: New Tech Helps the Disabled

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018

LONDON — Hadeel Ayoub slips a black glove onto her hand before beginning the swish of sign language that is meaningless to the untrained observer. Then she pushes a button on her wrist, and a small speaker relays the message drawn in the air: “Let’s Dance!”

“My dream is to give a voice to those who can’t speak,” says the 36-year-old inventor who is developing her BrightSign glove while working toward a Ph.D. in assistive technology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Wegmans Adds a ‘Game-Changer’ for Visually Impaired Shopping

By: Jason Law
Updated: Aug 29, 2018

BOSTON – Grocery shopping can be very stressful. Navigating crowded aisles in a store full of people is frustrating, but if you’re blind, like Kim Charlson, then grocery shopping can be almost impossible.

A new tool, however, could revolutionize shopping for people who can’t see.

It’s an app that helps the visually impaired navigate the world and does it using the eyes in your smartphone.

“You come into a grocery store and you’re just bombarded with everything all around you,” Charlson explained. “It’s just not the place a blind person can get around independently without some kind of support.”

Apple Sued Over Claims Website is Inaccessible to Visually Impaired Users

By Malcolm Owen
Monday, August 20, 2018

Apple has become the target of a new lawsuit, one that claims the iPhone producer’s website is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not being fully accessible to blind or visually-impaired consumers, due to the way the website itself is coded.

Filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York on Sunday, the complaint from the plaintiff Himelda Mendez is said to be filed on behalf of other users in a similar accessibility situation. Apple is the sole defendant in the lawsuit.

Most Business Websites Are Sitting Ducks for ADA Suits, Experts Say

Disabled turn to courts for equal access to business, government websites By Ron Hurtibise
Contact Reporter
South Florida Sun Sentinel
July 22, 2018

Business owners who think that building a wheelchair ramp and grab bars in the restroom will ward off South Florida’s accessibility testers and their lawsuits need to fire up their computers, go to their websites and ask: “What’s missing?”

Lawsuits accusing businesses of failing to ensure that their websites are accessible to deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled customers have been on the rise in recent years and show no sign of tapering off, say attorneys who specialize in accessibility litigation.